Hazardous Waste

Many materials most people use on a day to day basis fall in the category of Hazardous Waste and should not be disposed of with regular household waste. Some of these items, even in small quantities, can pose significant risks to trash truck drivers, landfill operators, and the environment! In fact, a vast majority of the fires that occur in trash trucks and at landfills can be traced to improperly disposed of hazardous waste.

The SW&R Office coordinates several events each year to disposal of household hazardous waste; visit the Household Hazardous Waste Day page for a complete list of what we accept. 

Though some hazardous waste materials aren't accepted through the City's collection programs, other options exist may be available as highlighted below.

Asbestos


  • Asbestos waste is illegal to remove/dispose of without a licensed contractor and is not accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of Asbestos in City waste through the City's waste stream is illegal!
  • Do not attempt to remove asbestos materials yourself.
  • Disposal options: refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Asbestos Removal for a licensed contractor. For more information about asbestos handling and removal, visit this website: https://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/handling/

Batteries


  • Most batteries* are considered hazardous waste.
    • Ni-Cd and other rechargeable batteries, such as those found in cordless phones, laptop computers, power tools, electric toothbrushes, beepers, etc.
    • Button batteries, such as those found in hearing aids, watches, calculators, etc.
    • Specialty batteries, such as lithium camera batteries, cell phone batteries, etc.
    • Lead-Acid batteries, such as automotive, motorcycle, security, etc.
*Alkaline Batteries (e.g., regular A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9 volt) are considered an exception, do not fall into the category of hazardous, and may be disposed of at home with your regular trash.

  • Disposal options:
    • A Household Hazardous Waste Day
    • A drop-off location near you here

Cell Phones


  • While cell phone batteries are generally considered hazardous waste, the non-battery components are not.
  • Disposal options:
    • Recycle it! Through a joint effort with Keep Lowell Beautiful, cell phones (including their cases, batteries, and accessories) are collected to help raise money for the City's recycling initiatives.
      • **Prior to recycling your cell phone, reset it to the factory default or wipe the contents on it to guarantee protection of your personal information.
    • Recycle it at Best Buy or Staples.
    • Throw the non-battery parts in the trash. Do not put it in your recycling. 
Please note that we can not be responsible for any data on cell phones that are recycled with us.

Commercial, Construction, or Industrial Waste


  • Non-residential waste, as well as any waste resulting from commercial or industrial businesses or organizations (regardless of their non-profit or for-profit status), is accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of commercial, construction, or industrial waste through the City's waste stream is illegal. This includes shingles, dry wall, railroad ties, etc.
  • Disposal options: refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Waste Removal for a licensed contractor.

Medications & Sharps/Hypodermic Needles


Explosives, Fireworks, or Ammunition


  • Used and unused materials related to explosives, fireworks or ammunition is highly dangerous, and is not accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of explosives, fireworks, or ammunition through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • This includes combustible and inert powders, casings, and materials which are intended to generate any type of explosive force.
  • For proper disposal contact:  the Fire Department at 978-459-5556 for assistance.

Infectious & Biological Waste


  • No infectious or biological waste of any kind is accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of infectious or biological waste through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • Disposal options: refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Bio-hazard Waste Disposal.

Radioactive Waste


  • No radioactive waste of any kind is accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of radioactive waste through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • Disposal options: please refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Radioactive Waste Disposal or Bio-hazard Waste Disposal.

Used / Waste Motor Oil


  • Used / waste motor oil is considered hazardous waste, and is very damaging to our waterways and ground water when disposed of improperly.
  • Disposal of used / waste motor oil through the City's waste stream, or dumping of it into the City's sewer system or catch basins is illegal!
  • Disposal options:
    • All Massachusetts retail stores which sell motor oil are required to take back used motor oil if you have a receipt.
      • The law provides for a limit of two gallons per person per day.
      • You can call the Used Oil Hotline with questions or to report retailers who are unwilling to accept used oil from customers with a receipt at 617-556-1022.


For More Information...


...about hazardous waste visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) website or contact one of the following as applicable:
  • For questions about mercury, contact the Mercury Hotline at 866-963-7287
  • For poison exposure information, contact Poison Control at 617-232-2120
  • For consumer questions re hazardous waste, contact the DEP Household Hazardous Waste Hotline at 800-343-3420
  • For general information on hard to manage wastes, contact the DEP Coordinator for Hard to Manage Wastes at 617-292-5704
  • For questions from businesses about how to manage hazardous materials, contact the DEP Business Compliance Assistance at 617-292-5898
  • For questions specifically about used oil collection centers, contact the DEP Used Oil Hotline at 617-556-1022
  • For confidential technical assistance to businesses by a non-regulatory agency, contact the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance at 617-727-3260
For information on DEP activities in specific geographic areas, contact one of the following DEP Regional Service Centers, as applicable:
  • Northeast Phone: 978-661-7677
  • Southeast Phone: 508-946-2714
  • Central Phone: 508-792-7683
  • Western Phone: 413-784-1100, extension 261